• Colleen Lennon, LCSW

Don't say YES when you mean NO

We all have times in our lives, sometimes more than we want, when we are asked to do, give or help with something, that we don’t want to, but yet we say yes anyway. There are some things we agree to do because it will help someone, make them happy, or it is a fair compromise, and does not have a negative impact on our emotions or well-being. But what about those times when you truly want to say no but still say yes?

Saying yes too often when you want to say no can cause significant distress, resentment, anger, feelings of being taken advantage of, and turmoil or conflicts in relationships. Saying yes to something that we know we should not can have consequences on ones mental health. There can be many reasons why we say yes, such as fear of missing out, not wanting to disappoint others, lack of confidence, avoiding judgment, or uncertainty about making the right decision.

Practicing communicating our boundaries and saying no, we can become more comfortable with saying no to others.

To help get you started on assessing your own boundaries in several life areas, the following list below will help you to get a clearer understanding of your own boundaries and when you may need to say “no”:


  • Am I saying yes because I’m trying to avoid judgment?

  • Will saying no negatively impact my relationship with this person?

  • Will saying yes compromise my own values and/or needs?

  • I am saying yes to make someone else happy by compromising my own happiness?

  • Would I be okay if saying no ended this relationship?


  • Possibly not lending money to friends family and colleagues

  • Setting a limit of how much money you are willing to give someone

  • What trust do you have with the person requesting money? Have they shown to be reliable and responsible with money?

  • Asking yourself “Would I be okay if I did not get this money back?”


  • Take time to consider the request, consider the time/effort/work needed to take on the task and ask yourself if you realistically have time to do said request.

  • Can you ask someone for help?

  • Will saying yes compromise your values, health, or other job tasks?

  • Are you finding yourself wanting to say no because of low self esteem or not feeling capable?

  • Are you taking on a request that you actually are not competent in and need support in?

  • Will this impact the quality of work on your other work tasks?

It is normal to say yes when you don’t want to every once in a while, but if you are finding that you always or more often than not say yes, you may want to practice assessing your own boundaries and how saying yes may be impacting you. It is important to have boundaries and balance in your life, and that includes when and what you say yes to. Learning to say “no” may be one of the best self care practices you learn in life and may even be surprised at how much it can improve your life!

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